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Assistant Surgeon, Alexander McDonald (1817- circa 1848)

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Recent acquisitions
Gallery locationPolar Worlds Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: Alexander McDonald, Alexander

Object details:

Object ID ZBA4548
Description Alexander Mcdonald was born at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, on 13 September 1817. He graduated as licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1838. In 1840 he served on an whaling vessel commanded by Captain William Penny and wrote an account of his experiences 'A Narrative of Some Passages in the History of Eenoolooapik, a young Eskimaux' (pub. Fraser & Co and J. Hoff, Edinburgh). Between 2 Sept 1841 and 5 March 1845 he served as surgeon on board HMS 'Belvidera' in the Mediterranean and was appointed Assistant Surgeon in HMS 'Terror' on Sir John Franklin's last expedition of 1845. The expedition, comprising 129 in all, was beset by ice and they abandoned their ships in 1848 in a doomed attempt to march south to safety: there were no survivors. It is likely this portrait was painted either just before or just after McDonald's whaling voyage, given he is shown in civilian dress, and the artist may well be Scottish, though this remains to be confirmed. It was presented to the Museum in 2008.
Date made circa 1840

Artist/Maker British School, 19th century
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by Mrs A N Dew, 2007.
Materials oil on millboard
Measurements Painting: 350 mm x 260 mm; Frame: 442 mm x 346 mm x 55 mm
  • Assistant Surgeon, Alexander McDonald (1817- circa 1848) (ZBA4548)
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